Subject: Whale Reproduction

Nancy Stevick (
Sun, 6 Jun 1999 09:45:24 +0100

On 04 June 1999 17:53, Brian wrote:

>Hi Nancy,
>My name is Brian and I was just curious on how whales reproduce ?
> Brian Crosby
> Programmer/Analyst

Dear Brian,

This is a delicate question to answer on-line, but I will do my best.
Whales are mammals and reproduce by internal fertilization just as other
mammals do.  To keep the animal as streamline as possible and protect them
from injury, the genitals are retracted into genital slits except when
reproduction is taking place.  Copulation usually takes place under the
water and is rarely observed by people.

In general, whales are polygamous, and many males may mate with one female.
Courtship varies from species to species.  In many of the toothed whales,
the males gather harems together during the mating season.  After the mating
season is over, the males go off alone, and the females remain together.
Larger groups offer better protection for the young calves.

Less is known of the mating behavior of baleen whales.  Right whales have
been observed in courting groups in the Bay of Fundy.  In these 'rowdy
groups' as they have been dubbed, many males attempt to mate with a single
female.  Humpback courtship involves a great deal of stroking and body
contact and takes place in the warmer waters of the Caribbean.  We know
practically nothing about the courtship and mating behavior of minke,
finback, sei and blue whales.

I hope this satisfies your curiosity about whale reproduction.

Nancy Stevick